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Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) is a biennial defence and security trade exhibition which serves as a forum between governments, national armed forces, industry, and academics, held at ExCeL London.

DSEI 2019 comprised 1700 exhibitors from 58 countries,[1] and DSEI 2023 is scheduled for 12–15 September 2023.[2]

DSEI's history[edit]

In 1999, the UK Government privatised the joint British Army and Royal Navy Exhibitions which had taken place since 1976. Exhibition company, Spearhead, launched DSEI (then known as Defence and Systems Equipment International) and the first event took place at Chertsey, Surrey.

In 2001, the exhibition moved to its current location at the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in London Docklands. DSEI rebranded in 2009 to Defence and Security Equipment International.

Current ownership[edit]

In April 2008, Clarion Events acquired DSEI.[3]


In 2011 DSEI ejected two exhibitors promoting cluster munitions banned by the UK.[4] Amnesty International reported the sale of banned instruments of torture at the event.[5] Thus the event attracts campaigns against it,[6] which historically have included attempts to disrupt the set-up of the event.


DSEI frequently attracts protests from those opposed to the sale of weapons in London or who are critical of nation states that are allowed to attend and the equipment available for sale.

In 2019, Mayor Sadiq Khan criticised the event, stating "London is a global city, which is home to individuals who have fled conflict and suffered as a consequence of arms and weapons like those exhibited at DSEI. In order to represent Londoners’ interests, I will take any opportunity available to prevent this event from taking place at the Royal Docks in future years."[7]

More than 100 protestors were arrested for blockading the event in 2017,[8] with the Supreme Court subsequently ruling that some protestors had "lawful excuse" to exercise their right to free speech and assembly.[9]

Amnesty International has criticised the event for selling weapons of torture and for providing weapons that have been traced to attacks on civilians.[10] In 2019 AI made a spoof video highlighting the event and criticising its activities.[11]

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) regularly campaigns against DSEI citing that many of the official military and security delegations that attend the exhibition represent human rights abusing regimes such as Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and all countries on the UK Government's own list of "countries of concern". One regime that CAAT highlights is Saudi Arabia which has been one of the leading countries involved in the war in Yemen which CAAT states "has seen the deaths of thousands of civilians, and estimated arms sales to the coalition around £18 billion since the conflict began in 2015".[12][13][14]

DSEI 2021[edit]

DSEI 2021 took place 14–17 September 2021,[15] despite Sadiq Khan's protestations. It gave an exhibition of Land, Aerospace, Naval, Joint, and Security capabilities, with an extensive keynote and seminar programme as well as the debut of DSEI Connect, a virtual platform created to give access to DSEI content and business development opportunities for those unable to attend in person.[1]

DSEI Stakeholders[edit]

Fully endorsed by the UK Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Trade,[16] DSEI maintains a strong standing with the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "DSEI 2021". DSEI. DSEI. Archived from the original on 2000-03-04. Retrieved 2021-08-05.
  2. ^ www.gov.uk
  3. ^ www.blackstone.com
  4. ^ "Companies ejected from London arms fair for 'promoting cluster bombs'". the Guardian. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  5. ^ "London Arms fair advertises banned torture equipment". www.amnesty.org.uk. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  6. ^ "Home". Stop the Arms Fair. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  7. ^ "'Get out of London,' Sadiq Khan tells organisers of world's largest arms fair". Independent.co.uk. Independent. 8 September 2019. Archived from the original on 2019-09-10. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  8. ^ Grafton-Green, Patrick (2017-09-15). "More than 100 people arrested at world's biggest arms fair in London". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  9. ^ "Supreme Court Upholds Right To Protest In DSEI Arms Fair Case". Hodge Jones & Allen. 2021-06-25. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  10. ^ "Arms companies are hiding between governments - they must be held accountable". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 2021-08-10.
  11. ^ Welcome to the London Arms Fair, archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2021-08-10
  12. ^ "Defence & Security Equipment International". Campaign Against Arms Trade. 6 October 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  13. ^ "DSEI 2021". Campaign Against Arms Trade. 9 July 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  14. ^ "An unwelcome guest: DSEI 2021". Campaign Against Arms Trade. 9 September 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  15. ^ www.techuk.org
  16. ^ "UKDSE: event and exhibition support". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2021-08-05.

External links[edit]